San Diego

Officials ID Man Who Died in Police Custody

Officials have identified the man who ran in and out of traffic in Little Italy last week and then died in the custody of San Diego police. 

Vito Vitale, 39, also used the name Todd James Vitale, according to San Diego police. 

Vitale was detained by officers after he ran into traffic at the intersection of Grape Street and Columbia around 11 p.m. Friday.

Officers were initially called about a naked man running around yelling for help.

At one point the man made it inside the Harborview Inn and Suites, running up and down the halls on different floors, a hotel employee told NBC 7.

The man began struggling after he was handcuffed by an officer, police said.

A passerby stepped to try and calm the man down. A witness told NBC 7 the man injured his head when officers pinned him to the ground.

In a statement, San Diego police said their officers gave the man chest compressions until paramedics arrived and he was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

On Thursday, officials released Vitale's name as well as the names of the officers involved in the incident. They were Greg Pilkington, Robert Nelson and Carlos Diaz - all assigned to Central Division Patrol.

Residents in the area weren't surprised to hear there was a disturbance in the neighborhood but wish police receive better training for handling people in distress.

"I think at that point someone in medical or in the medical field needs to get involved with that," Sasha Gorecki said. "Someone is fighting like that and you think they are on drugs — I don't think that the best thing to do is fight them and to struggle to restrain them."

Investigators were at the scene looking for surveillance cameras to try to determine what caused the man’s death.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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